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Let me paint you a picture of what it looks like in my kitchen at dinner time while I am attempting to make dinner. It is straight up chaos.
On one leg, there is probably a child asking me for something to eat because “I’m SO hungry mommy.” There is usually another child hiding in the tupperware cabinet he can’t stand to be away from me for more than two minutes. Or he’s literally trying to climb me.
Cooking dinner can be stressful. When you have little kids it’s noisy and dangerous. I always feel like I’m at risk for stepping on little fingers and toes while they play and demand to be fed.
What if I could make dinner prep fun again? If my boys are going to be in the kitchen anyway, perhaps it’s time to put them to work doing age-appropriate tasks. And, since I’m working to lose the “baby weight” still, maybe I could squeeze in a good workout.
I mean, maybe they’ll at least sleep better at night…maybe. I broke out our folding step stools and some good workout tunes and rounded up the boys. The first order of business was tasking the boys with a “job” or 2. My boys are currently 2 and 6, so the younger won’t be quite as helpful as my first grader, but he definitely can help. Currently, The Baby’s kitchen jobs are:
- Pour ingredients into a bowl.
- Rinse fruits and vegetables.
- Scrub potatoes using his own potato scrubber.
- Pick herbs.
- Tear lettuce and greens.
- Stir batter using a wooden spoon.
- Mash vegetables.
- Sprinkle salt or herbs into a bowl.
- Put the silverware into the dishwasher.
Smalls is slightly more capable, and is able to do a lot more, though we’re still working on it. Smalls can:
- Use a paring knife (Smalls has this set of knives that he uses).
- Cook at the stove with supervision.
- Opens cans.
- Uses the can opener.
- Press garlic.
- Peel fruits and vegetables.
- Grate cheese with a box grater.
- Drain and slice tofu (He uses a tofu press).
- Create burger or sausage patties (He uses this press).
- Whip cream with a hand mixer.
- Grease a baking pan.
- Scoop batter into muffin cups (we use this batter scoop).
- Scrape down the mixing bowl.
- Slice bread.
- Make kababs
- Help put groceries away.
- Load and unload the dishwasher.
Now that they have clearly defined, safe kitchen tasks, I can focus on helping all of us get the wiggles out.
5 Exercises You Can Do While Making Dinner
When it comes to working out and cooking, there are limitations, though not many. Most of it is just being aware of where your attention needs to be. So if tricep dips are super challenging for you, don’t do them when you’re simmering a sauce that needs to be stirred. Okay?
I have arm flab. There I said it. If you’re like me, and you want to do something about it, tricep dips are amazing. To do them, grab two cans of the same size. Then stand with legs slightly bent and feet hip-width apart.
Put your arms straight overhead and hug your ears. To “dip”, bend your elbows, lowering the cans behind your head. Straighten your arms to raise the weights to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 10.
When you’re waiting for a pan to heat up or a casserole to finish, lunges are a great option. Lunges target your quadriceps, but they also engage your glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core muscles. My favorite lunges are what I call “around the world” lunges.
To do them, you simply lunge to the front, side, and then finish with a reverse lunge on your right leg. Switch legs and repeat on your left side. Do 20 reps.
I love me some sumo squats! Not only do they target your glutes like nobody’s business, but they are fun to do. To do a sumo squat, stand with your legs wider than hip width apart, and squat down keeping your knees over your toes. Get as low as you can without losing your balance then return to standing. Do 20 reps.
Standing Push Ups
Standing push ups are easy, great for small spaces, and can be thrown in here and there when you’re preparing dinner. To do them, put your hands on the wall or a countertop (waist level or higher). Plant your feet at least 2 feet behind your hands. Making sure that your shoulders are tracking over your hands, bend your arms to start your push up. Press to straighten your arms. Do 2 sets of 10 reps.
TIP: To make this exercise easier, move your feet closer to your hands. To make it harder, move your feet further away.
I don’t know about your kids, but mine love to dance. Seriously. I just have to put on some show tunes or 80s music and I literally cannot stop them. I love to have a good dance party when doing other excercises either isn’t feasible or I just feel like being silly.
Staying active is so important. If you suffer from an autoimmune disease (I have Hashimotos) exercise may feel nearly impossible because of exhaustion, inflammation, and joint pain.
Even if you don’t have an autoimmune disorder, low impact exercise is a great way to combat stress and keep you active. Plus, your bodies release endorphins when you exercise. Endorphins are a natural painkiller and mood lifter. That’s a win-win.